What is your outlook?

Kurt Andersen: It depends on the day how optimistic or pessimistic I am. I never find myself being erratically pessimistic or erratically optimistic. I find myself going up to 55%, 56% one way or the other. So my needle stays pretty close to the glass is both half full and half empty all the time. That can be affected by how many people were blown up in Baghdad today or any number of things.

But I think, and certainly in the near term, there’s not much cause for optimism. Having just written a book set 150 years ago which inclined me toward the long view, when I take the long view I can at least kind of grapple towards some more hopeful version of the next 100 years.

I think this age will be remembered as a time of, historically, at least as far as the United States is concerned, as a time of tremendous confusion and squandered opportunity in the now 15 years after the end of the Cold War. Roaring 20s time of a kind of acceptance. A kind of bland acceptance of pretty grotesque examples of economic inequality. So is that cheery enough for you?

 

Recorded On: July 5, 2007

There's not much cause for optimism, Andersen says.

How to make a black hole

Here's the science of black holes, from supermassive monsters to ones the size of ping-pong balls.

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  • There's more than one way to make a black hole, says NASA's Michelle Thaller. They're not always formed from dead stars. For example, there are teeny tiny black holes all around us, the result of high-energy cosmic rays slamming into our atmosphere with enough force to cram matter together so densely that no light can escape.
  • CERN is trying to create artificial black holes right now, but don't worry, it's not dangerous. Scientists there are attempting to smash two particles together with such intensity that it creates a black hole that would live for just a millionth of a second.
  • Thaller uses a brilliant analogy involving a rubber sheet, a marble, and an elephant to explain why different black holes have varying densities. Watch and learn!
  • Bonus fact: If the Earth became a black hole, it would be crushed to the size of a ping-pong ball.

Russian reporters discover 101 'tortured' whales jammed in offshore pens

Protected animals are feared to be headed for the black market.

(VL.ru)
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In a breakthrough for nuclear fusion research, scientists at China's Experimental Advanced Superconducting Tokamak (EAST) reactor have produced temperatures necessary for nuclear fusion on Earth.

Credit: EAST Team
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